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How Long Does it Take to Diagnose Appendicitis? Time Point Process Mapping in the Emergency Department

Abbas, Paulette I., MD*; Zamora, Irving J., MD*; Elder, Simone C., BA*; Brandt, Mary L., MD*; Lopez, Monica E., MD*; Orth, Robert C., MD, PhD; Bisset, George S., MD; Cruz, Andrea T., MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000720
Original Articles

Objectives Appendicitis is the most common surgical emergency encountered in the pediatric emergency department (ED). We analyzed the time course of children evaluated for suspected appendicitis in relation to implementation of a risk-stratified ultrasound scoring system and structured reporting template (Appy-Score).

Methods In July 2013, a 6-level ultrasound (US)-based appendicitis scoring system was developed and implemented. The records of children (age ≤18 years) who underwent limited abdominal US exams for suspected appendicitis at a large academic pediatric ED were reviewed retrospectively. Time periods evaluated were from January 1 to April 1, 2013 (before implementation of the US scoring system, “PRE”) and July 1 to October 1, 2013 (after implementation of the US scoring system, “POST”). Times are presented as medians with interquartile range.

Results A total of 926 children were included (median age, 9.5 years [range, 0.1–18 years]; 49% female). Four hundred eighty-one patients were evaluated PRE and 445 POST. When comparing the 2 groups, there were no differences in the PRE and POST periods with regard to time from US ordered to first read (102 vs 112 minutes, P = 0.30), US ordered to disposition (215 vs 208 minutes, P = 0.40) and operating room posting (121 vs 122 minutes, P = 0.59), and overall ED stay (329 vs 333 minutes, P = 0.39).

Conclusions The development of a radiographic appendicitis score, although allowing for a standardized reporting method, did not significantly alter the ED process flow for evaluation of appendicitis. This reflects the complexities in ED throughput and reveals the need for additional factors to change to improve patient flow.

From the *Division of Pediatric Surgery, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine;

E. B. Singleton Department of Pediatric Radiology, Texas Children's Hospital; and

Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Paulette I. Abbas, MD, 6701 Fannin St, Suite 1210, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail:

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